July is past and August upon us! How I anticipated this time – AFTER my time at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference on the beautiful campus of Cairn University in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
Marlene Bagnull has been coordinating writer’s conferences for 31 years and her tireless efforts to encourage and equip writers to “Write His Answer” has been the launching point of countless authors and speakers for three decades – taking God’s Word to the masses all over the world.
I first attended a conference in 2003, the year I moved home to New Jersey. I connected with a local writer, Janice Heck, who mentored me there. Alas – she moved away and in 2004 I attended with the New Jersey Society of Christian Writers president and founder, MaryAnn Diorio. Then, in 2005, my bookseller husband and I actually taught a workshop about how to have a successful book-signing event: Booksigning TNT.
But, Pageant Wagon Productions and the heyday of the Pageant Wagon Player’s Summer Family Melodrama Theatre (2005-2009) took center-stage in all my busy and I had to lay my writing to print-publish down for a time. Over the past three years, I have felt the Lord slowly re-directing me to take up the pen again, and transition towards a larger writing, publishing and speaking focus – trusting Him to open the doors and make the way.
So, finding myself at the conference this year for the first time in nine years, I was happy to see so many familiar faces from past conferences – including Janice – who has moved back to New Jersey, living about 20 minutes away from me! Delightful re-connecting with her. I see many writing adventures ahead we’ll be sharing – including starting our own writing encouragement and critique group in our county!
At the conference, I took the blogging clinic, taught by Megan Breedlove of Manna for Moms blog, in addition to a plethora of published book titles encouraging moms in their devotions and family raising responsibilities. What a great time we had as bloggers getting to know one another, encouraging one another, and learning new ways to make our blogs better for their purposes.
In addition to Megan, here’s a shout out to the gals in our group:
The conference was four days of intense workshops, clinics, continuing sessions and keynote morning and evening services. WOW!
The days clipped along at rapid pace – but there was plenty of time for fellowship and really connecting with other writers – especially during our meals in the huge university cafeteria. Sitting down randomly was always a divine appointment – like when I sat across from Jewell Utt and discovered how many things we had in common – not the least of which was writing, speaking and blogging to encourage women!
At one luncheon, Jeanette Levellie – Messages of Mirth and Worth - an absolute delight – actually taught a mini “Shock the Clock” lesson with her steps to making more time to accomplish more worthwhile things right at the table while we ate!
Of course, the most anticipated purpose of the conference were the one-on-one face time appointments with agents, editors and authors in the industry. This is where we had opportunities to pitch our book proposals and get critiques and professional direction about our work. The faculty and staff of the conference were so generous with their time and knowledge. They built us up and truly equipped us with news we could use, top notch teaching and hugs like they’ve known us for years!
I was especially blessed to connect with kindred spirit Gloria Penwell of AMG Publishing. Though my work was not in the sphere of her editorial needs, we made time for many conversations together, just enjoying like minded fellowship.
One of the blessings of the conference was being used to BE a blessing! I was delighted to connect with young and lovely Abigail Horgash. At the tender age of eighteen, this was her second conference. She’s been immersed in the genre of historical fiction – specifically Regency England a la Jane Austen – and has been writing ever since she can remember. She was overwhelmed with how enthusiastically her work was received by those in the know, and is looking to pitch a finished work in one of the larger publishing houses. I’m keeping my eyes on this rising star.
Speaking about rising stars – my own young illustrator, also eighteen, was quite the sensation. Her name is Noah Berge, and her illustrations for my Fable Springs Parables Series of stories and study guides for multi-generational discipleship had folks tossing their contact information to me with great enthusiasm for her work. Upon my return, we met together with her parents and are making a plan to pursue a professional course – including her saving up to attend the conference WITH me next year!
I LOVE encouraging and mentoring these young gals who want to soar for Jesus in the gifts He’s given them!
As for me? Well – I brought two book proposals with incomplete manuscripts for professional review in the hopes that I might know if I’ve “got” something – and the best direction for my goals in publishing and speaking. God was not slack. He set me in divine appointments all weekend and I have a great deal of follow-up to do and decisions to make this month. I will share more on this topic as I make my decisions. However, I will say that I believe my life will be changing dramatically this coming year.
Even Ed has some opportunities that may come his way for a career change in his later years – fulfilling some dreams of his own.
Did I mention yet that GOD IS FAITHFUL???
As a final bit of blessing, I walked into the main chapel a bit late for the final session of the event just as my name was being called as the FIRST PLACE WINNER of the Poetry Published Writer division for a little something I titled, The Conundrum of the Call – submitted a couple weeks ago! There are so many more things I could write – but I’ll be adding little bits and pieces throughout the rest of this month in other posts.
THANK YOU to everyone and anyone who thought prayerfully of me as I made my way through the conference. Establishing a committed prayer team to under-gird my work going forward is the first thing to which I am putting my energy. God is so good. This blogging community has been a HUGE part of getting me to where I am now – on the threshold of new beginnings and great adventures.
To God be the glory for the things He has done . . . and will do.